Founder of the Australian Circular Fashion Conference and the Australiasian Circular Textile Association
In this episode of Plastics Revolution, I’m chatting with Camille Reed, the founder of the Australian Circular Fashion Conference and the Australiasian Circular Textile Association (ACTA) about sustainable fashion.
Camille started her career as a graphic designer and eventually translated those skills to the world of fashion. While working as a textile designer, she realised the need to make her industry more sustainable. And a short time later, she went from designing with recycled materials to creating an industry conference and association to tackle this problem more collaboratively.
I hope you enjoy this episode of Plastics Revolution with Camille Reed.
You can read the full transcript of this episode on Tammy’s blog.
Companies, Organisations and Products Mentioned in this Podcast:
Australian Circular Fashion Conference
Australiasian Circular Textile Association
Hosted by Tammy Ven Dange
Produced by Jonny Puskas
Theme Music by Joseph McDade
All Rights Reserved 2019
This transcript has been modified for clarity.
T: Tammy Ven Dange, Host
C: Camille Reed, Founder of the Australian Circular Fashion Conference and the Australiasian Circular Textile Association.
T: Camille, welcome to the show.
C: Thank you for having me, Tammy. It’s a pleasure.
T: I actually ran across your organisation and probably not a face to face introduction, but knew of who you were when I attended the Australian Circular Fashion Conference in Melbourne earlier this year. Let’s talk more about you and how you got into the fashion industry. Did you always know you wanted to do something in fashion?
C: Initially no. After studying graphic design for several years, having a couple of small jobs with printing companies just on the outskirts of Melbourne. It was after a trip participating at Camp America as a camp counsellor over there in the States for about four months and stopping by New York City on the way back before heading home to Australia. that I really connected with what fashion you could mean as a job, and potentially how that could mean me working within some big brands back home in Melbourne.
C: And this was in my early 20s, and I fortunately came across a position in Carlton, and I was able to transfer all my skills that I’d undertaken from studying graphic design and implement them into a textile designer role. And I learnt all the techniques on the job. It was a fortunate circumstance where the software you learn graphic design can be applied directly to textile design, and that’s where it all began just over 10 years ago now.
The start of a sustainable fashion interest
T: So you went from a graphic designer to a fashion designer and then you had that first job. When did you start to have interest in the sustainability of the industry?
C: I took up a role at Forever New, and continued the creative flair for another couple of years. And my vocational activities in the business to incorporate working within the social committee and running events.
C: We had something called the Green Team, which we started, and that was also when we had about seven or eight staff members from different parts of the business coming together and forming a like-minded team to be able to educate staff on pretty much responsible behaviour around small things: keep cups or coffee cups, using rechargeable batteries, soft plastics, recycling, reducing food waste, bringing plastic containers and hopefully reducing the contamination with the recycling and general waste bins.
C: And then I went on to write a sustainability department for that company. And going back to some five years ago, it was very forward thinking. It was something that I’d read about after H&M released a report in 2014, and I was going back and flicking through it and something resonated with me where another staff member who was contracting shared about the impacts of textile waste and what that means for industry.
C: And I saw an opportunity to be able to create something quite new and obviously big blue sky thinking around how Forever New could literally be “forever new” and looked to be a leader within the fashion industry locally by implementing a sustainability department.
C: It was really well received by a couple of managers. However, given that was nearly five years ago, it was too forward of its time, and I can definitely appreciate that the necessity of the sweet spot of time, particularly in the sustainability conversation, is very important. So, there was a few aspects of what I was able to achieve within the two years – two and a bit years of working in Forever New. And it’s definitely given me the platform and the crux of where I have been able to sort of create a niche within the industry and continue to focus on sustainability where I’m now.
T: Isn’t that interesting how you started off with that Green Team to look at your own personal consumption, but yet being in an industry that wasn’t even thinking about it’s own sustainability in terms of design. And then trying to add that value at some point and not finding anywhere to go with it, that’s just such an interesting journey. I think a lot of people can relate with starting with themselves and realising the things they’re doing within a workplace can also be improved.
Becoming a sustainable fashion designer
T: So, how much time was it between that first opportunity or first insight into your concerns about the sustainability of the industry to the time that you started the actual Australian Circular Fashion conference?
C: Yeah, great question, Tammy. So I left the business around April 2016, moved up to Sydney from Melbourne, and I went head-on into creating my own design studio and began commissioning and freelancing as a textile designer from a home office in Sydney. And I kept the connections from those I had made in Melbourne, particularly the small start-up company in West Melbourne called Textile Recyclers Australia. And they became a close alliance to better understand what’s happening in this space.
C: And so throughout that time of me designing, producing over 40 works a month to send and sell overseas, I was contemplating how I could print my own designs on recycled polyester fabric. And (was) reaching out to others within my community for those who knew of someone who’d done something similar.
C: Were there printers in Sydney that I could talk to? Were there printers in Melbourne? Had anybody tested and tried certain kinds of recycled poly(ester)? And what could that look like for my artworks. And could I go basically door to door knocking on a fashion business and saying, “Wel, look, this is Australian design and this is recycled content.”
C: And it became a real interesting shift where I was instigating a lot more conversation around sustainability rather than instigating more conversation around churning out or getting prospective clients to buy my designs. And so it’s been an organic shift in that sense that I have taken it upon myself to really immerse within this industry and understand where it can go from here.
C: And for connecting with like-minded individuals, setting up coffee dates, booking in interviews while watching a lot of TED talks, I really started to build a broader network of those who are operating in Australia around sustainability. And at the time, this was 2017. At the time, there wasn’t a huge amount of people around. So it was probably just over a year and a half between from becoming a textile designer to going head-on into creating the conference – the first conference. So that’s around July. August 2017 is when I began planning the March 2018 conference, which ran in Sydney for the first time.
Finding sustainable materials
T: OK, so I want to go back in time. You decided to, first of all, make your own materials out of recycled materials. Did you actually…
C: Sorry, you could actually purchase them. They were currently existing.
T: OK, so the materials were already in arecycled polyester, but then you wanted to put a print on it. Were you able to find someone in Australia to help you do that?
C: Yes, that that was the great thing about it. And it was through these conversations, as I said it’s blossomed organically. There was a fellow who was printing scarves, women’s scarves were selling them in Myer. And he gave me some of these recycled sampling fabric which he purchased online. It was too heavy. It wasn’t quite suitable for the style of scarf he looking for.
C: I then began reaching out to local printers on the other side of Sydney and asking all sorts of questions around, “What do you do? What can you do? Can you do this? Can you do this? What do you think about this? Is this something you’re interested in?
C: And I made a terrific friendship with a fellow there who was a part of a printing business, and there was something they had running up on the side called Textile Hub. And the focus was on fledgling designers and teaching sustainability and also giving people confidence to be able to get something off the ground.
From designer to conference planner
C: So, there were people within the space who were interested. And I think because of the timing then, the conversations that I was having definitely led to the success of the first conference in 2018. And…
For those who know when the time is right, when things feel easy, when things fall into place, then you know that you’ve got an opportunity to really act and create something right there.
C: I believe that was definitely a part of transitioning from a textile designr to creating the conferences – that people were engaged, people were interested in the topic. And that led me to believe that there is something much more here.
T: And then, I went to the 2019 conference, which was huge. I don’t know how much bigger it was than your first conference, but interest in the subject has just grown so fast.
C: Yes, absolutely.
Sustainability – where to start?
T: I found one of the things that you wrote in, I forget which magazine it was, and you said that:
“The textile industry is the second largest polluter of the planet behind the coal industry, and that it’s also a massive user of precious natural resources like land and water.
T: You’re in this space, you’re in the advocacy space. Where are you advocating first? Are you trying to help them on the back end or are you also looking at the front end as well?
C: Yes, it’s all very much challenging, and everything needs to be addressed in one hit essentially. The thing that’s really topical at the minute is the back end where we’ve got textile waste in abundance or pre-used, pre-loved clothes in abundance and not only in fashion. That applies to so many different forms of textiles that we use within our daily lives.
C: Corporates use them. Other companies who use them as a business and service. So, there’s definitely a need that we’re raising to be able to voice what textile recyclability could look like within Australia by setting up a new resource stream and collection. However, we do need to consider the inherent importance around understanding what does it look (like) at the front-end to design for end of life to ensure that when we’re pretty much riding out the risk of having a bunch of textiles at the end of life.
C: It’s a tricky one. We’re heavily advocating for textile recycling at the minute with the association. For example, we’re putting together an advocacy paper around – by 2030, what could it look like to have literally new infrastructure set up in place to recycle textiles and trade them as a commodity rather than just see them as something that’s going to landfill, burning them or incinerating it.
C: When I’m saying that, I’m very much on top of how can it be that we’re looking into alternative fibres and fabrics and what are the best options of the minute? What are the standards and certifications that are required to be able to meet those needs? So, it’s a little bit of everything.
T: With the recycling, my understanding the textile industry is that one of the greatest challenges we have for recycling is the mixed materials. There’s so many blends when people create materials these days then try to separate them, while there seems to be some technology now that can do so, but it’s at an exorbitant cost where it can’t justify the means at the moment. Is that something like what you’re looking at in terms of your paper?
C: Yes, basically, yes. And we have to be realistic with the costs. It would cost between $20m to $30m to set up a new resource facility to collect and process. However, that’s applicable to any recycling stream, any plastics, glass, metal, anything. And it was sort of almost ignorant to think, “Well, we can’t afford that. Oh, that’s way too much money. Or this or that.”
C: Because we’re applying that exact same theory to anything else we’re treating as a recyclable these days and/or or a waste. Even commercial landfills that are separating waste they would cost that much, and that stuff’s going to landfill – all these sorts of different things.
C: The costs will probably stay the same for quite some time. It will take a while for them to drop given that technology is emerging. It’s probably like with most technology, we’ll see refinements, improvements, the cost effective ability to scale will be reduced significantly within time.
C: There’s a number of different organisations in several different countries all over the world looking at recyclability of textiles in each in their own unique way, which is fantastic. For example, there’s a local organisation called Block Texx in Queensland, and they’re still a few million off to be able to fund their first facility or their first site. They’ve got the majority of the money, but they’re just finding out a little bit more. And for example, their patents and technology to be able to separate cotton polyester and trace it through as a new fibre or new material.
C: However, they’ve got a different approach to another group called re:newcell in California, and the way they separate fibres. And, I think all these different approaches are what we need. And I think whoever will be able to churn and burn at a commercial level the fastest, we’ll be able to scale the quickest.
C: And then we’ll really see what and how it will come to light the way we solve textile waste and that opportunity to be able to trade it and treat it as a valuable asset rather than currently sitting in a waste stream straight to landfill.
C: So, it’s it comes with its challenges. We’ve got a lot of the opportunities to be able to develop what we think within regional New South Wales and Victoria, new sites and job opportunities.
C: These skilled labour forces around engineering, for these sorts of machinery. And we feel that with this advocacy paper by 2030, with X number of signatures – we’re looking at between 500 and 700. We’ve got to get a thousand signatures. Around this time next year, we would have taken something to local and federal government to push forward and really understand that textiles are growing within household waste and also commercial waste.
C: They’re becoming problematic for contamination issues within recycling when it comes to separation. And that problem is only going to get – well, it’s not getting better anyway. They seem to be getting worse even though we’re trying to improve contamination with kerbside recycling.
C: So we’re finding that while we’ve got a little way to go – logistics and sorting by charities or local companies, they’re relatively easy to tick off. We have the ability to pick up a bag of clothes and drop them off at the store, and we have the ability to get a truck to pick them up and take them somewhere else and sort them. It’s the back-end technology then for how to reprocess them, it’s still emerging.
T: It’s interesting because it feels like the textile industry is behind some of the other consumer packaged goods industries. And I say that because in other countries like Europe, just pass something (I think it was yesterday) that in this consumer packaged space that there is an expectation of government back to the manufacturer to design with some thought about recycling at the end of it life.
But what’s industry’s responsibility?
T: It sounds to me that the position paper that you’re considering to put forward is more about the government providing some capability or supporting some capability so that you can recycle materials once they’re already there. But isn’t there some sort of responsibility for the industry itself to consider the ability to do this within their own design?
C: Absolutely. Stewardship or extended producer responsibility? So that comes into that the aspect of interlocks that they should be considering what they’re doing and particularly around the importation. And the position paper will reference several key points that we want industry to advocate for themselves. Essentially, it’s meant to be self-governing to a certain extent. We want them to uphold and be able to say, “Yes, this is exactly what we want.” We’re not trying to propose something on top onto them that they don’t wish to acknowledge.
C: So, we do want to be able to mandate how much recycled content that should be in garments or textiles imported into the country. And we should be having a stewardship in place where companies have no choice but to keep X percentage out of landfills. So, we are following up with essentially seeing that industry can recognise there’s a lot more to it rather than just somebody else coming up with solution to sort their stuff. We want them to be able to recognise that right at the start of it, they have a huge amount of opportunity to be able to carve their own way and self-regulate and voluntarily ensure that they’re taking responsibility within the business from the very get go.
Consumer Demand for Sustainable Fashion
T: Are you starting to see within the consumer demand side that consumers are demanding more sustainable fashion?
C: Absolutely – mainly coming from a lot of the online media that I’ve been reading a lot of articles, particularly worldwide, including Australia. Just several platforms here locally that the ladies create is terrific content. They’re only growing faster, faster, month on month with (the number of) people in their readership.
C: So definitely, the consumer aspect is really heightened in the past year, that’s for sure. And I know a couple of brands that named them the “conscious consumer.” So, it’s an emerging or it’s a new category that brands are now recognising that they have to meet or they have to look at. She or he, but mainly she – she’s asking different questions now, and she might be still very ignorant to all the sustainability traits that a company really needs to make sure is in place. But they’re asking enough questions which we’re not meeting faster or quick enough.
T: The conscious consumer is obviously making a difference in other areas. Like, I’m hosting a cleanup day this weekend at the lake here in Canberra. And that’s mostly packaged goods. So that’s very visible to the consumer what happens with it when it’s not disposed of properly.
Working with Charity Op Shops
T: As far as fashion goes, at the conference you had Salvos – The Salvation Army (charity) was there at the conference. And I was just thinking about how interesting their data would be if they can actually capture the kind of clothing that they’re getting in, the quantity of clothing they’re getting and how that might change over time as the conscious consumer is requesting from its stores and designers that they want to buy from, to be more sustainable in their approach.
T: Are you doing anything with them? Because it seems like they’re a founding partner on your new association, and they were certainly a presence at that conference.
C: Absolutely. So, we do continue to keep the conversation open with the Salvos as much as possible again. Given this, they’ve got a lot on their plate. And we’re working closely with Vinnies (St. Vincent de Paul charity) in that respect because both charities are the largest in Australia in that sense, and so have got quite a strong representation in retail op shop presence.
C: Vinnies were looking to accrue some data the past few months on how much is being returned by consumers and the volume. And that was going to be across a number of regional stores. However, I think with the data building process, they have quite a few outliers. The charities do find it difficult to find that data and really make sure it’s accurate and on point. And that’s for a number of different reasons, which is a shame. Number one, it does cost a lot. And the influx and the change in season does play a big part.
C: But I think you’re absolutely right in saying that if we’re looking to a point there were encouraging industry to improve the level of standard design, to design a level of products that they’re selling. Therefore, we should see a much more pristine quality for the second-hand market, therefore increasing the opportunity to keep garments in circulation for far longer. And hopefully charities not sending nearly as much to landfill because it’s just rags or it’s only one-time use or one-time wear and so on and so forth.
C: And they want to be a part of this conversation. They want to be a part of the solution very much so. And they see an opportunity to be able to partner and work with brands and retailers on that second-hand collection side. So, if we’re able to set up a “textile take back” scheme at a national scale within next 5 to 10 years, how can the charities work more closely with us to be able to grab some of that stock that may be coming back through good brands and retailers that have got a fantastic reputation?
C: Can they assist in sorting it? Because there will come a point in time that charities will be flooded with too much to sort themselves, and we know that Australia is the second largest consumer of textile per capita next to the United States. So, we can’t expect the charities to be able to sort it all.
C: However, for the garments and the products that we can get our hands on, how can that improve the way the second hand market stream is dealt with in Australia? Therefore, it’s got a nice social narrative, too, to be able to prove the money and the funding going back through the projects they’re creating on a national scale.
C: So, we do have a fantastic working relationship and even NACRO, which is the National Associate for Charitable Recycling Organisations. And most of the charities are members of NACRO. So, we work closely with the CEO, and that’s also propelling, what further opportunities that our association, ACTA, may have with the charities in a much broader approach as well as just working with them individually.
T: The fact that we do have such large charity organisations here that are largely around the country – what a great partnership and what a great idea to try to use them as part of the supply chain in terms of returning good clothes back to the manufacturers for them to resell.
T: I was thinking about how difficult it must have been for them during the crazy time, probably about a year ago, and everybody was doing the Marie Kondo, you know, getting rid of everything they didn’t love and how much additional clothing that they probably received during that period of time.
T: And then on top of that, the fast fashion. It’s the same thing about recycling something -they think as soon as they put something into a yellow bin, it’s over and it’s been recycled. It’s probably the same thing they’re thinking about, “As soon as I donate my clothes to one of these charities, then I’ve recycled or I’ve put things to good use for reuse.” That’s another problem that most of us probably have back of mind, but don’t realise how horrible it must be for the charities to have to deal with all those clothing.
T: Do you know what percentage of the clothing that charities receive is actually resold?
C: I have heard it before. I can’t see off the top of my head. I know the percentage that they sent to landfills is not very high because there’s a couple of different, I suppose, outlets for what they do with the second-hand apparel. I mean, you’ve got goodwill in terms of people who are in genuine need of product for emergency situations. And you’ve also got the offshore export market where third world countries, they ship it overseas and they sell it to them.
C: We know that’s a hotly contested issue. However, it’s slowly changing the way we look at that in future. So, I don’t quite know the percentage that’s saved or sold within stores. And that comes back to tracking the data and how tricky it can be.
C: So Vinnies and Salvos have a couple of big sorting facilities within New South Wales and Victoria. However, a lot of the items that get donated to individual stores are sorted at individual stores and sold in the stores. So, it’s a little tricky to best understand well, even what percentage of that, because you have lovely high end neighbourhoods that see every single item they receive is actually good quality. And then you’ve got tiny townships where there’s only a few stores and maybe garments are trucked in or the things that they receive there and not as high quality so they have to go to landfills. I can’t explicitly say what the percentage is.
Man-made textiles are plastic
T: Still interesting. I didn’t realise how much they were shipping overseas. I reckon there’s probably a few people listening to this podcast that might not realise how much of the clothing industry is actually made out of petroleum types of – like plastic basically: from nylon to polyester to… you probably could rattle off all these different kinds. But that’s why we’re having this conversation is because the textile industry truly has the same issues as the plastics industry.
C: Absolutely. Exactly. They’re identical. Synthetic fibres, manmade fibres are plastic. And we have to be able to capture them and recycle them. The difference between the recyclability is hard plastic – bottles, take away containers, they’re chipped, they’re flaked, and that’s called mechanical recycling.
C: With textiles, you’re treating it with a different process and it’s chemicals that are recycling the fibres are basically melted down and then they can be extruded into yarn or treated back into a plastic pellets which usually happens after bottles and containers are chipped down and they turn them back to pellets again, and then they can be turned back into plastic again.
C: So that comes down to some of that we were talking about earlier, the technology and the cost of the equipment where we have plastic recycling here in Australia that chips into pellets or sorry – flakes. However, we don’t have chemical themo recycling for textiles. It’s not nearly as common. It’s achievable, but the costs are associated with how we set that up.
C: And you’re absolutely right. We’ve got the issues to micro fibres. I think that’s going to be a big deal in the next few years. Every garment we wash that’s synthetic, it sheds those micro particles are ending up in through our waste water, our grey water and into the ocean, and into other water streams.
C: So we really need to be conscious of better understanding how we treat manmade products, manmade fibres and to any extent, as you said, fast-moving, consumer goods. There’s a lot of changes happening within these industries now. And we all need to be aware that stewardship or extended producer responsibility is going to be a thing in the next several years. So, we’re helping to ensure that industry are aware of mitigating the risk of what changes will come as a result of the way they were treating and dealing with manmade.
C: And it’s not to say that we shouldn’t look to manmade as an able thing we created. It’s given us a huge amount of opportunity as a community, as a society, as a modern way of living, and we wouldn’t be here today without some of that technology. It’s just we need to form a better relationship with our manmade essentially. It’s treating it with great respect. It’s treating it as a higher value item and ensuring that we’re calculating that value from start to finish the whole way through.
Australasia Circular Textile Association
T: Thank you for answering those questions around the industry. I had always wondered some of these things. Let’s talk about the future a little bit. I know that at the conference you introduced us to your new association. And so that’s the Australasia Circular Textile Association. Do you want to tell us more about that?
C: Sure. Well, I suppose I’ve been evolving slowly and that comes with being a one-man band. You can’t do it all. However, the conversations that we’ve been able to continue in the pastmeight months since the conference was in Melbourne have been extremely fruitful with a workshop being in Sydney where we had 20 key stakeholders from industry.
C: At the workshop, we like to think a lot of those people who come on board are somewhat of a working group for us to be able to soundboard some of the decisions that we’ll pull together for how we’re launching our 2020 programme. We see that after having two great conferences which were particularly successful in bringing people together to build the awareness around such a growing topic, that the association is very much the next evolution of the conference to be able to focus on some of these key points and topics that industry don’t have the time to do.
C: And we’re going to see that as our next picture, a big opportunity in 2020. So, with the position paper, that’s definitely one of the massive value ads we’d like to think for industry and also for our members. And as I mentioned, that’s a 2030 goal to be able to bring industry and government on board, to work together to establish the way that we’re going to ensure that we’re both meeting the needs responsibly, both the consumer and keeping industry profitable, and also keep them grounded here locally, because we don’t want to see international players take that away from us.
C: We also don’t want to see our local companies fail. We want to ensure that they’ve got the adaptability and viability to ensure businesses as strong and continue. And also bring a tremendous amount of opportunity, collaboration with so many different organisations outside the apparel retail sector, which are to some extent key stakeholders perhaps not recognised as much as they should be.
C: And we’ve got a massive network, which is, again, to the credit of the success of the conference, to be able to leverage and pull together and build a committee. And we’re going to be running quarterly workshops and events throughout 2020 and looking to offer members some tangible actual tools that they can take into improving their businesses on a regular basis.
C: And with these targeted, focussed events, we’re looking to achieve topical things that industry is actually asking at the time. So, we’re not looking to tell them what to do. We’re not looking to say, “Well, you need to make this and you need to do this and need to do this.” We’re going to be listening very, very carefully to them, because we’ve also need that trust and respect and credibility to ensure that they know we’ve got their backs rather than what an industry body is telling them off.
T: So you’re really an association as an enabler?
T: And as, I guess, an advocate for the industry, we when you meet with government, more so than a sort of enforcing role.
C: Yes. And I think you’ve expressed that beautifully, Tammy. Where we look to enable any potential solution. We want to be the one seen in the position that you come to us with any question around sustainability and circular economy. And we’ll look to point to in the best direction or perhaps bring in several solution providers to ensure that we’re meeting your needs.
C: So we are very much the aggregator and those joining the dots to ensure that outcome is met in the best possible way. We don’t look to have any infrastructure. We don’t look to actually own the projects ourselves. Lots of the heavy lifting will be outsourced or tendered to organisations where it’s basically their job. So, we’re not going to look to take on anything that’s not what we do. And that also will give us the flexibility to ensure that our network will keep growing and that we can bring the most important players in under our umbrella to continue to build something that will have a strong platform for years to come.
Advice for Industry about sustainable fashion
T: All right. So great things look forward to the future. Camille, do you have any advice or requests for our listeners, whether they be a company or a designer that’s thinking about doing something in sustainable fashion or perhaps a consumer?
C: For the industry at this stage, I’d say if you’re a company whether you’re a big or small, just go for it. There is no wrong place to start within sustainability. And depending on where you are at in your journey, whether you’ll have some way down the path, maybe you’re quite literate and understanding what sustainability means, or perhaps you’re illiterate and you’re still engaging and getting on board with where to go to from that there – there is no right or wrong place. Just make a crack of it.
C: Reach out to people. People can always hit me up for a question. There’s a tremendous amount of information available from other industry partners, I’m sure there are people who know others who work within other companies who may be able to shed some light or insight from companies that I haven’t had the chance to speak with this year.
C: They do talk to each other, and we see that sustainability is a collaborative space. They’re not looking to compete with each other, but they’re going to be learning more so from each other. So, if one company is looking at polyester bags and another company is looking at polyester bags. When they ship products and someone tried them, they didn’t work. The other person tells the other person at the other company says, “Don’t go with those guys that way.” And it was a valuable bit of information and insight.
C: So lean on your peers, give it a crack and perhaps understand the values and the vision of what the company is looking for. Because every brand is different. And if you can get your tribe. I associate employers as a tribe. If your tribe is fluent and understanding what those goals and what that vision means, then it’s also going to make the next initial approaches much more fluid and tangible and receptive to them.
C: So, I see it is coming from somewhat of a top down conversation – top people who have the ability to make the decisions. You do need to best understand whether or not this is a priority for the business because that ultimately can either open up doorways for staff to get on with it and start to implement sustainability or approach in a different light. As opposed to decision makers who don’t see the value or opportunity to the business for sustainability and the Green Team members, a bit like myself – those Green Team members will be quietly disheartened because their ideas will be halted much more quickly than expected.
It’s aligning a tribe, it’s giving it a go, it’s reaching out to peers if you’re in the industry.
Advice for consumers interested in sustainable fashion
C: And if you’re a consumer, I must say Google is your friend. And there’s so much information and so many interesting international platforms expressing a lot of content around what’s shaping up to be a really game-changing time and fashion. There’s online platforms that are selling exclusively sustainability. There was one launched recently in Australia this week.
C: There’s bespoke brands. I would shop second hand if your massive shopper. If you love browsing, if you love window shopping and you’re constantly finding the insatiable need to purchase on a regular basis, hit up the markets because second hand markets have never been more full of fashion. They used to be at a time many, many years ago, . second-hand homewares. But now there’s an influx of second-hand goods. And we can pick up anything. You can pick up shoes, you can pick up bags, you can pick up anything you like these days. I’m a huge advocate for shopping second hand because that’s all I do.
T: All right. So, Camille, if people want to reach out to you or the conference or…are you not doing the conference in 2020? Is that right?
C: That’s right.
T: OK, so skipping a year or maybe something else?
B: We made a decision based upon the evolution of the way we need to move industry along and the conversations that we’re having with local governments and also other stakeholders within industry – that a more specific targeted approach needs to be taken within 2020 to ensure that we’re meeting our objectives. We love running the conference. Don’t get me wrong, it is a huge amount of fun. And just like yourself, when you attended this, it was an amazing buzz in the room and the positive conversations and relationships that come from such an event is fantastic and that’s what we look to do. However, all that time and effort can be spent on building the association to achieve so much more. So, it’s a strategic approach to move forward.
T: OK, so maybe 2021, you might be able to run the conference again once you have some of those wins on the board for the Association. How can we reach out to you and to the association?
C: You can reach me on my email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m also available on Linkedin. You can find me, Camille J. Reed on LinkedIn. ACTA.global is up and running as a website so people can visit the website and you can submit an interest via a Contact Us page if you’d like to reach out. We will be sending out more information within the next several months and early new year around the position paper, for example.
C: So, people who are interested in finding out what we’re looking to take forward the next 10 years and perhaps they’d like to support it. That will be coming out shortly. We also have a Facebook page for Australian Circular Fashion, which will remain up and live. So, we’re keeping our social content for the conference still available.
T: I’ll make sure we’ll put that in the transcript and then the show notes so people can follow up if they want to.
T: Camille, thank you for joining us today. And just the amazing work that you’re doing. It’s obvious that there is a serious need in the industry for someone to take charge and say, “Look, we could do better from a circular fashion perspective and we need to think about the full life cycle here in Australia too not just the people that are sourcing it or the bigger retailers. So, let’s get together, and let’s have a chat.”
T: And you took that upon yourself and on your shoulders to say, “I will take on that leadership role.” So, thank you so much for your passion and for taking the initiative and now creating an association where more people can get involved and learn more about how they can be more sustainable as a consumer of fashion, as well as, industry.
C: Thank you, Tammy and thank you for coming along to this year’s event. And again, thank you for the opportunity to be part of your podcast. I think you’re also doing an incredible job of bringing together like-minded people to share about what others should know. So, right back at you. Let’s stick together. Keep working harder.